Same sex marriage is the union of two people of the same gender. Unlike civil unions which don’t allow all of the same benefits as marriage, same sex marriage would guarantee equal rights for those involved-the same rights that heterosexual couples have. These rights include making medical decisions, receiving pensions and other benefits in the even of a partner’s death, healthcare, power of attorney, and full social equality. In recent years, same sex marriage has become a worldwide issue of debate. Since marriage is defined differently by different groups of people, a lot of controversy surrounds the issue. While it’s obvious that most gay groups and some civil libertarian organizations would favor same sex marriage, many conservative and Christian groups strongly oppose it. The current debate is whether this type of marriage should be legalized or banned. President Bush has even gone so far as to call for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” So far reasons to ban same sex unions have been strongly based on some people’s religious beliefs. The question I hope to answer is “Is there a legitimate reason to ban same sex marriages, and if there isn’t, why are homosexual couples having to fight for such a basic human right?”
Advocates for gay rights believe marriage is a legal agreement on a government level and shouldn’t be restricted just for same sex couples. They say marriage is a civil right. If this is so, civil rights should be expanded to all people, not just heterosexual couples. Opponents of gay right activist believe that marriage is a natural right rather than a civil right and that right is based on the need to reproduce. Since homosexuals can’t reproduce, opponents of same sex marriage believe that the right of marriage should not be extended to them. This argument isn’t reasonable either since homosexuals have been able to have children through alternative methods such as using egg and sperm donors to have their own biological children. The reproductive argument also falters because there are many heterosexual couples who are sterile as well. This doesn’t make their marriage any less of a marriage simply because they aren’t able to procreate.
Opponents also believe that if homosexuals are allowed to marry, the sanctity of marriage itself will be threatened, as the understanding of what marriage is would no longer be clearly defined. When looking up the actual definition of marriage, there are several definitions-some seem restricted to heterosexual couples and others are written to include homosexual couples. For example, marriage is defined as “the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies” and also as “a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction: trial marriage; homosexual marriage.” From these two definitions from the same source, it’s becoming clearer that people are realizing that the meaning of marriage can be extended to homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. In both cases two consenting adults are committing to each other and therefore they should be treated equally.
With all of the fighting against other discriminations such as racism, gender inequality, religious intolerance, etc, it’s surprising that so many people are on the bandwagon to discriminate against an entire group of people based solely on their sexual preference. If we’re all supposed to be created equal and have equal rights among us, the idea of placing a ban on same sex marriage just because you personally don’t agree with it seems both morally wrong and downright asinine. Going back to the argument that same sex marriage will “threaten the sanctity of marriage,” there has yet to be any evidence which proves that. Arguments for anti-gay marriage claim that allowing same sex marriage will reduce marriage to nothing more than a means for social benefits. Even though legalizing same sex marriage would allow equal benefits for homosexual couples, there is no harm in that. Giving them the equal benefits that they have just as much right to as anyone else in no way, shape, or form threatens or takes anything away from heterosexual marriages.
Many Conservative Christians use the Bible in their argument for why same sex marriage should be banned. The Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin and views it as unnatural. While this may be true according to Biblical scripture, the scripture also lists many other actions and ways of being as sins. Some of these are gossipers, liars, cheaters, drunkards, gamblers, thieves, lasciviousness, fornication, and adultery just to name a few. While all of these things are considered sinful, and according to the Bible-no one sin is greater than another-there isn’t a logical reason why out of all the sins listed in the Bible, homosexuality should be singled out and magnified. The religious view on why same sex marriage should be banned can be argued against those in support of it for the simple fact that they are taking it upon themselves to place judgment on the lifestyle of others instead of leaving it up to the ultimate judge who is God. Another argument on the religious side is that by same sex marriages would ultimately redefine the family. This is not a strong argument since there is no one set definition of what a family has to be. There are many different types of families and there’s no evidence showing that a homosexual couple is any less would be detrimental to the family.
In the government, there has been a separation of church and state in some areas. It seems like separation of church and state come into play when it’s to the advantage of the individual trying to get legislation passed in their favor. For example, you can’t pray in public schools but when issues such as abortion and same sex marriage come into play, it’s ok to throw in what the church says about it when deciding whether or not to pass or ban a civil right. It seems that if the government wants there to be a separation of church and state, it should apply to all state situations. Either you want the church and state to be united or you want them to be separated. You shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose when it’s convenient to use one or the other.
A case in point, if people were pushing to ban other specific groups from getting married such as blacks or Muslims, there would be a social and political uproar about the blatant discrimination. However, since many people are homophobic these days and are not accepting of the homosexual lifestyle, they don’t view a ban on homosexual marriages as being an act of discrimination. Dictionary.com defines discrimination as “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.” Based on this definition, denying homosexuals the same marriage rights as heterosexuals and placing an all out ban on same sex marriage is a clear example of discrimination. Traditional marriage between a man and a woman has long been changed anyway. In some places polygamy is legally allowed. Women are no longer considered to be their husband’s property, people are allowed to divorce, laws against interracial marriage have been lifted, and in some places people are allowed to marry relatives such as distant cousins. With all of these types of marriages being accepted in some way, or at least not being completely banned, to place a ban on same sex marriage would be wrong. Everyone has free will and should be allowed to live their lives how they want, which includes being able to marry someone of the same gender.
After looking at the arguments for and against same sex marriage, it is clear that to ban same sex marriage would be taking away the basic civil rights of certain human beings without a valid cause. To take away the rights of people to suit another group of people’s personal beliefs should not be upheld in a court of law, nor should it be supported by a constitutional ban. Legalizing same sex marriage would not hurt anyone; instead it would give rights to individuals who deserve them just as much as everyone else.
CNN.com. Bush Wants Marriage Reserved for Heterosexuals. 2003. 28 October 2003. http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/07/30/bush.gay.marriage/index.html
Dictionary.com. 2006. http://dictionary.reference.com/
The Washington Times. Bush Vows to Defend ‘Sanctity of Marriage’. 2003. 13 November 2003. http://www.washtimes.com/national/20031118-113126-4734r.htm.